VOL 13: Home Is Where the Wine Is | A Guide to Aging Wine at Home
“When preserved correctly, wine can last up to centuries, growing in value, quality, and most importantly taste.”
The Journal | Vol. 13
Why cellar wine?
For those with a treasured collection, the bottles in their cellars represent precious memories. For others, it’s about practicing patience until the right time comes to enjoy the wine at its best. Whatever your reasons, one of the pleasures of enjoying fine wine is curating a collection that suits your tastes and style over time.
If your home doesn’t come equipped with a state-of-the-art wine cellar, that doesn’t mean you can’t store your wine in it. You can still expertly age your wine from the comfort of your own home – you just need to know how.
Is My Wine Worth Aging?
First things first: not all wines are made to age! The majority of bottled wines are meant to be drunk right after bottling or at a maximum of five years after bottling. In fact, only one percent of the world’s wine is actually meant to be aged. If you want to know whether your wine is worthy of aging, it will probably come with a steep price tag. This is because significant levels of detail, cost, and care need to go into an age-worthy bottle.
But simply spending more money on a bottle won’t guarantee that it will age well. Remember: a flawed or poor-quality wine won’t miraculously improve with age. It needs to be world-class from day one! Here are a few key characteristics to look for in cellar-worthy wines:
- High acidity: Acidity adds to a wine’s vibrant, full-bodied texture. It fades with age, so the higher the acidity to start with, the better. Red wines that have a higher acidity (a lower pH) generally last longer.
- Big tannins: Tannins act as antioxidants and help preserve freshness in red wines. Bold tannins give the wine the structure to age well.
- Quality fruit: It all starts with well-balanced fruit! While this is difficult to tell by the bottle, generally, a reliable producer with a good reputation will be a solid starting point.
When you get your hands on that special bottle that’s worth the wait, caring for it in the best way possible is vital to the drinking experience. Aging or cellaring wine refers to the process of storing a bottle of wine in a cool, dark place for several years, allowing the wine to improve as it sits untouched in the bottle.
When preserved correctly, wine can last up to centuries, growing in value, quality, and, most importantly, taste. The oldest wine in existence today is the Speyer Wine Bottle that dates back to 325-350 AD. Of course, whether it is drinkable is still to be determined.
On the other hand, poor storage can spoil even the greatest wines. That’s the last thing you want when your wine is an investment of your money and care. At Seven Apart, all our wines are made to age and need to be stored correctly for their flavors to flourish optimally.
Home Base Can Be Best
In the absence of an expensive cellar or wine storage facility, you’ll need to replicate the conditions of a wine cellar in your own home:
- Store Wine at the Proper Temperature
Wine is more fragile than you think! Of all the factors that influence the quality of stored wine, the temperature is the most important. Hot or cold temperatures are an instant way to deteriorate the wine. In general, the ideal temperature for both long-term or short-term wine storage is around 55°F but this can vary from wine to wine. For temperature recommendations about specific wines, consult the producer of the bottle to be sure.
The temperature of the room where you store your wine should be kept as stable as possible. Temperature fluctuations can cause the cork to expand and contract. This allows the wine to seep out (or air to seep in) around it, causing oxidation (something you want to avoid at all costs!).
- Store Wine Bottles Horizontally
A wine rack is a great, budget-friendly option for wine lovers. Be sure to store your corked wine bottles horizontally in a wine rack. Keep the rack away from ovens or fridges where heat is expelled! Keeping wine on its side helps keep the cork moist, which is key for long-term storage. Horizontal storage is also an efficient way to store your wines for maximum space and easy access.
- Protect Wine from Light and Vibration
Whether you’re storing it for months, weeks, or days, a dark room is wines’ best friend. UV rays from direct sunlight can damage the wine’s flavors and aromas. Wines should also be kept well away from sources of vibration. This disturbs sediments in the bottle, disrupting the process that enables the wine to age favorably. Wine and washing machines don’t mix!
- Store Wine at the Proper Humidity
Humidity extremes in the storage area can negatively impact your wine’s longevity. Aim to keep the humidity in your storage between 60 and 68% to ensure the flavors develop to their fullest potential. A simple household humidity controller should do the trick in most rooms. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of this then…
- Invest in a Wine Fridge
If you don’t have a wine storage space that’s consistently cool, dark, and moist, a wine refrigerator – also known as a wine cooler – is a good idea. Unlike a regular refrigerator that keeps your food very cold and dry, a wine fridge keeps wine between 50-60˚F and at the proper humidity. A good wine fridge should have a cooler setting for sparkling wine so you get the most use out of it. Housing your wine in a separate wine fridge also prevents cross-contamination from food odors. If cost is a concern, remember: wine is an investment, and a wine fridge is a surefire way to protect your investment down the line.
- Serve Wine at the Proper Temperature
When preparing to serve a stored bottle to fellow wine lovers, allow time for it to come to the proper serving temperature. This ensures full expression of wine aroma and flavor. Decanting your wine before serving is the best way to do this. To learn more about decanting, read through our informative post here.
Red wine should be served chilled slightly below room temperature, between 58 and 65˚F. The precise temperature is determined by the age of the wine, with older wines drinking better at 61-65˚F and younger wines on the colder end of the spectrum. White wines can and should be served colder than reds, ideally between 45-55˚F.
The right wine fridge or proper storage conditions will make serving your wines at the right temperature a quick and seamless process.
Understanding Cabernet Sauvignon
At Seven Apart, we craft Cabernet Sauvignon wines that express the best of this deep, bold variety. In order to do so, they benefit from a little extra time to flourish. Anywhere from five to fifteen years in the bottle helps to soften astringent tannins and balance out acidity levels. This gives way to a smoother texture, allowing earthy aromas of leather and tobacco to shine through alongside its initial fruity notes. The longer the wine ages, the more substantial it will feel and the richer its mouthfeel.
We strive to bring you the most exceptional wines, and then it’s up to you to ensure the premium quality of our wine when it’s in your hands. If you’re a seasoned wine lover, it’s well worth it to invest in a space that will reward you now – and many years down the line.